Iraqi Prime Minister pledges reforms to calm protests
Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi's cabinet issued a series of reforms early Sunday (October 6th) after an "extraordinary" session overnight in response to sweeping protests that have left nearly 100 dead, AFP reported.
Iraqis have gathered in Baghdad and across the south since Tuesday to demand widespread government reforms, which Abdul Mahdi had promised to tackle when he came into power just under a year ago.
Early Sunday, his cabinet issued a decree including more than a dozen planned reforms, including land distributions, military enlistment and increased welfare stipends for needy families.
In response to youth unemployment, which has reached around 25% according to the World Bank, the government said it would create large market complexes and boost benefits for those without work.
The Iraqi Human Rights Commission said Saturday that 99 people have died and nearly 4,000 have been wounded since protests kicked off.
The government has officially designated those killed as "martyrs," granting their families a special set of benefits.
Parliament speaker Mohammed al-Halbusi also pledged a range of reforms in a meeting with lawmakers on Saturday, but did not hold his planned legislative session as the body failed to reach quorum.
The Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) on Monday said they were ready to implement government orders to prevent "a coup d'etat or a rebellion".
PMF head Faleh al-Fayyadh said he wanted "the fall of corruption, not the fall of the regime".
Meanwhile, Iraq’s military on Monday admitted that "excessive force" was used in a district of Baghdad overnight where a mass protest led to clashes that medics and security forces said left 13 people dead.
"Excessive force outside the rules of engagement was used and we have begun to hold accountable those commanding officers who carried out these wrong acts," the military said in a statement.